Race Report:
2006 Motocross of Nations
Team USA Wins!!!

2006 MOTOCROSS OF NATIONS
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Matterley Basin—Winchester, England

The drive to the Matterley Basin circuit on Sunday morning looked nearly identical to that experienced on Nations Sunday last year in France. A torrential downpour is what we awoke to, and the heavy rain didn’t stop until our arrival at the track at 7:30. With a clearing expected later in the morning, a beautiful afternoon of racing was on our minds, but what would be left of the track after hours of heavy rainfall? To our amazement, the Matterley soil, although slick and muddy during all of the practice sessions, shaped up nicely, and that beautiful afternoon of racing is exactly what we got.

Coming into the day, Team USA held down the number one qualifying position after three great qualifying moto scores on Saturday (1-1-2), and thus a record 17th win was the only goal of the team’s massive supporting crew. At the end of the day, with champagne spraying and the National Anthem playing, it was the red, white, and blue of James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto, and Ivan Tedesco that stood on the top steps of the podium. Though a moto win eluded the American riders, a solid and consistent team effort was all it took to bring home the trophy for the second year in a row. Here’s how it all went down…

QUALIFYING CLASSIFICATIONS
(Countries Qualified to MX of Nations)
1. USA
2. Belgium
3. France
4. New Zealand
5. South Africa
6. Great Britain
7. Italy
8. Estonia
9. Finland
10. Spain
11. Australia
12. Japan
13. Germany
14. Portugal
15. Canada
16. Norway
17. Czech Republic
18. Slovakia
19. Switzerland

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MOTO ONE: MX1 + MX2

With 40 of the best MX1 and MX2 racers in the world loaded in the gate for the first moto of the 2006 Motocross of Nations, the electricity in the air was absolutely unbelievable. Sixty thousand of the most diehard international fans stood and screamed as the gate dropped, and it was MX1 World Champion Stefan Everts who charged through turn number one with the lead. James Stewart diced his way into second by lap two, and then set his sights on the number seven Yamaha. Behind the top two, New Zealand’s Ben Townley and Team USA’s Ryan Villopoto rounded lap one in third and fourth, respectively, which was absolutely remarkable given the smaller displacement of their 250F machines.

While reeling in Everts on lap two, Bubba lost the front end of his KX450F as he entered a hard left-hander at the bottom of one of Matterley Basin’s downhills. Remounting and getting underway outside of the top ten, Stewart put his head down and passed several riders to conclude the lap in the seventh spot. Meanwhile, up front, Villopoto got by Townley to move into the second spot behind Everts (first MX2). Riding extremely well, RV was not challenged again until on lap 13 when Bubba got by after charging his way back toward the front. With the second and third overall spots on lockdown, Team USA charged their way to the finish, with Bubba crossing the checkers 11 seconds behind Everts, and Villopoto another four seconds behind that. Everts, as usually can be expected of Europe’s most decorated rider in history, rode extremely smooth and consistent, and faced no major challenges with Bubba having to come from behind after his crash.

Behind the top three, France’s newly crowned MX2 World Champion Cristophe Pourcel rode a very strong race, finishing fourth overall (second MX2). Unfortunately for Team France, Pourcel’s teammate and brother Sebastien Pourcel had a moto he’d rather forget, finishing in the fifteenth spot. Rounding out the top five, New Zealand’s Ben Townley put in a great effort to pilot his KX250F in ahead of the rest of the big bore bes, ending the moto with three of the top five on Lites-class (MX2) machines.

With 2-3 moto scores, Team USA took the early lead, with New Zealand and France sitting in second and third, respectively.

RESULTS:
1. Stefan Everts (Belgium)
2. James Stewart (USA)
3. Ryan Villopoto (USA)
4. Christophe Pourcel (France)
5. Ben Townley (New Zealand)
6. Josh Coppins (New Zealand)
7. David Philippaerts (Italy)
8. Maximilian Nagl (Germany)
9. Tyla Rattray (South Africa)
10. Antonio Cairoli (Italy)
11. Kevin Strijbos (Belgium)
12. Tanel Leok (Estonia)
13. Billy McKenzie (Great Britain)
14. Jonathan Barragan (Spain)
15. Sebastien Pourcel (France)

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MOTO TWO: MX2 + MX3

When the gate dropped for moto number two, Ivan Tedesco rocketed out of his middle gate slot to beat the rest of the pack to turn number one. Behind Hot Sauce, a freight train of 250F riders settled in behind him. France’s Christophe Pourcel led the MX2 charge, with Ben Townley, Ryan Villopoto, and Italy’s Antonio Cairoli close in tow. On lap number four, Pourcel crashed hard while coming down one of the track’s many downhills, allowing Townley, Villopoto, and Cairoli to get by. Shortly thereafter, Villopoto put a move on Townley, and the moto’s leading order was all Team USA with Tedesco out front and RV in second.

While Team USA was trying hard to check out, Townley and Cairoli went at it for third, carrying enough speed to keep the two Americans in sight. On lap eight, while trying to work his way around his teammate, Villopoto made a costly mistake that allowed his KX250F to bounce over the backside of a berm. Able to keep his bike upright, Ryan jumped back on the track just seconds later, but not before both Cairoli and Townley got by him.

Up front, Tedesco, who sat out all but one of the AMA outdoor Nationals this year, looked to be lacking the speed that he typically shows, and an extremely hard-charging Cairoli began closing the gap, eventually making a pass for the lead on lap 10. Meanwhile, Villopoto spent the next several laps trying to find his way back past Townley, which he finally accomplished on lap 13—the same lap that he also got by his teammate, Tedesco.

With just three more laps to go, Villopoto slowly began reeling Cairoli back in, but it was too little too late for the likeable redhead, and he crossed the checkers 3.6 seconds back. Cairoli, along with all of the Italian fans on hand, went absolutely nuts as he crossed the checkers, as this was clearly a huge win for the rider, and country. Behind the top two, Townley put in a strong ride to move up into the third spot, with Belgium’s Steve Ramon and South Africa’s Tyla Rattray rounding out the top five. What about Hot Sauce? Tedesco looked to be riding a bit tight after leading for nearly 20 minutes, and on the final lap dropped from fourth to sixth. Though Ivan was hoping for a stronger finish, Team USA still headed into the final moto of the day with a commanding lead for the Motocross of Nations championship.

Villopoto’s Motocross of Nations performance was absolutely spectacular, and his 3-2 moto scores (1-2 MX2) earned him the MX2 individual championship, as well. This is the first time in history that a rookie professional has won such a title. “Everything went great. I got good starts, and did what I had to do, Ryan told us after his race. “In the second moto I made a mistake, but I recovered to get back up to where I needed to be, and I am really excited for this win. This has been a great experience, and hopefully I can join the team again next year.

RESULTS:
1. Antonio Cairoli (Italy)
2. Ryan Villopoto (USA)
3. Ben Townley (New Zealand)
4. Steve Ramon (Belgium)
5. Tyla Rattray (South Africa)
6. Ivan Tedesco (USA)
7. Christophe Pourcel (France)
8. Jussi Vehvilainen (Finland)
9. Tommy Searle (Great Britain)
10. Carlos Campano (Spain)
11. Wyatt Avis (South Africa)
12. Carl Nunn (Great Britain)
13. Aigar Leok (Estonia)
14. Matti Seistola (Finland)
15. Marc Ristori (Switzerland)

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MOTO THREE: MX1 + MX3

Entering the final moto of the 2006 Motocross of Nations, the US squad had a commanding lead over the rest of the field. And with every team dropping their worst score, it would have taken both Stewart and Tedesco to finish poorly in order for another team to surpass the reigning champs. With that in mind, Team USA’s game plan and team order was to ride only as aggressively as they needed to win the event, though the pride associated with winning an MX of Nations moto was still on the line.

With anticipation at its highest level, the gate finally dropped for moto three, and Italy’s David Philippaerts got the jump. His jump, unfortunately for Team USA fans, was a bit sideways as he cutoff the line of Stewart who was gated directly to his right. As Philippaerts charged through turn one with the lead, Bubba dove to the far inside and snuck underneath several riders to make up some ground. By the end of lap one, the Italian still held down the lead, with Britain’s Billy McKenzie, New Zealand’s Josh Coppins, Everts, and Bubba rounding out the top five.

By lap number four, Bubba had worked his way by Everts to take over the second spot, but after losing some ground while trying to find a way passed Philippaerts, Everts was able to set him up and get back by on the following lap. Both Stefan and Bubba were eventually able to put the Italian behind them by lap seven, and the two motored on to put plenty of distance between themselves and the rest of the field. Up front, Everts rode impressively well, laying down lap after smooth lap, never allowing Bubba to show him a wheel or make a real challenge. With the overall championship on his mind, James rode smart, strong, and gave it a great effort, but it was obvious that he wasn’t pushing it like he is capable of. “The second moto was kind of hectic, James commented at the end of the day. “I was late off the gate, and then I was going back and forth trying to establish a good pace for a while. Stefan and I went back and forth a little bit, and then I saw his teammate back there and decided that I was content to just finish on the podium. No matter what they did, if we were on the podium, we would win, and for me it’s all about the team. Back in the states we race a little different—we race to win motos. But over here we race for our country, and I did what I had to do.

Tedesco, who later admitted to riding a bit tight thanks to his lack of racing the past several months, put in a strong effort to finish the moto in the ninth spot, knowing full well that Bubba was up front holding things down for the overall score they needed to clinch the title. And so with a total score of 15 points, Team USA took home their 17th Motocross of Nations victory, breaking the tie with Great Britain for the winningest country in the history of the sport.

RESULTS:
1. Stefan Everts (Belgium)
2. James Stewart (USA)
3. David Philippaerts (Italy)
4. Tanel Leok (Estonia)
5. Steve Ramon (Belgium)
6. Jonathan Barragan (Spain)
7. Sebastien Pourcel (France)
8. Josh Coppins (New Zealand)
9. Ivan Tedesco (USA)
10. Billy McKenzie (Great Britain)
11. Carl Nunn (Great Britain)
12. Yoshitaka Atsuta (Japan)
13. Cody Cooper (New Zealand)
14. Blair Morgan (Canada)
15. Yves Demaria (France)

___________________________

5. Tyla Rattray (South Africa)
6. Ivan Tedesco (USA)
7. Christophe Pourcel (France)
8. Jussi Vehvilainen (Finland)
9. Tommy Searle (Great Britain)
10. Carlos Campano (Spain)
11. Wyatt Avis (South Africa)
12. Carl Nunn (Great Britain)
13. Aigar Leok (Estonia)
14. Matti Seistola (Finland)
15. Marc Ristori (Switzerland)

_________________________

MOTO THREE: MX1 + MX3

Entering the final moto of the 2006 Motocross of Nations, the US squad had a commanding lead over the rest of the field. And with every team dropping their worst score, it would have taken both Stewart and Tedesco to finish poorly in order for another team to surpass the reigning champs. With that in mind, Team USA’s game plan and team order was to ride only as aggressively as they needed to win the event, though the pride associated with winning an MX of Nations moto was still on the line.

With anticipation at its highest level, the gate finally dropped for moto three, and Italy’s David Philippaerts got the jump. His jump, unfortunately for Team USA fans, was a bit sideways as he cutoff the line of Stewart who was gated directly to his right. As Philippaerts charged through turn one with the lead, Bubba dove to the far inside and snuck underneath several riders to make up some ground. By the end of lap one, the Italian still held down the lead, with Britain’s Billy McKenzie, New Zealand’s Josh Coppins, Everts, and Bubba rounding out the top five.

By lap number four, Bubba had worked his way by Everts to take over the second spot, but after losing some ground while trying to find a way passed Philippaerts, Everts was able to set him up and get back by on the following lap. Both Stefan and Bubba were eventually able to put the Italian behind them by lap seven, and the two motored on to put plenty of distance between themselves and the rest of the field. Up front, Everts rode impressively well, laying down lap after smooth lap, never allowing Bubba to show him a wheel or make a real challenge. With the overall championship on his mind, James rode smart, strong, and gave it a great effort, but it was obvious that he wasn’t pushing it like he is capable of. “The second moto was kind of hectic, James commented at the end of the day. “I was late off the gate, and then I was going back and forth trying to establish a good pace for a while. Stefan and I went back and forth a little bit, and then I saw his teammate back there and decided that I was content to just finish on the podium. No matter what they did, if we were on the podium, we would win, and for me it’s all about the team. Back in the states we race a little different—we race to win motos. But over here we race for our country, and I did what I had to do.

Tedesco, who later admitted to riding a bit tight thanks to his lack of racing the past several months, put in a strong effort to finish the moto in the ninth spot, knowing full well that Bubba was up front holding things down for the overall score they needed to clinch the title. And so with a total score of 15 points, Team USA took home their 17th Motocross of Nations victory, breaking the tie with Great Britain for the winningest country in the history of the sport.

RESULTS:
1. Stefan Everts (Belgium)
2. James Stewart (USA)
3. David Philippaerts (Italy)
4. Tanel Leok (Estonia)
5. Steve Ramon (Belgium)
6. Jonathan Barragan (Spain)
7. Sebastien Pourcel (France)
8. Josh Coppins (New Zealand)
9. Ivan Tedesco (USA)
10. Billy McKenzie (Great Britain)
11. Carl Nunn (Great Britain)
12. Yoshitaka Atsuta (Japan)
13. Cody Cooper (New Zealand)
14. Blair Morgan (Canada)
15. Yves Demaria (France)

___________________________

OVERALL TEAM RESULTS

1. USA
2. Belgium
3. New Zealand
4. Italy
5. France
6. Great Britain
7. South Africa
8. Spain
9. Estonia
10. Finland

OVERALL TEAM RESULTS

1. USA
2. Belgium
3. New Zealand
4. Italy
5. France
6. Great Britain
7. South Africa
8. Spain
9. Estonia
10. Finland